There are lots and lots of times when I just hate wild turkeys and a hunt is transformed from a pleasant stroll through the spring woods into a mission of vengeance. That’s what turkeys do to me sometimes. Let’s take my foray to Oklahoma.
Before the hunt a couple of weeks ago I was assured that there were lots of birds, they had been gobbling hard and filling my two tags would be akin to child’s play. Wrong! Guess my hosts didn’t know exactly who they had invited since the curse of the outdoor writer seems to follow me everywhere.
Daybreak on the first morning saw me and buddy Mark Schaefer of Bushnell optics sitting on a field edge—a Pretty Boy decoy set up in the field to keep us company.
“I’ve been watching these birds for a few days now,” our guide told us. “They come out in this field and through here every day.”
Yeah, except today. Mark and I sat dead still, listened to some far-off gobbling and watched a few passing-through hens for a couple of hours before we just couldn’t take it any more.
“Mark,” I whispered. “Let’s do something. Think I’ve had enough of this.”
Schaeffer agreed and we quickly headed off in the direction of the last bird(s) we heard gobble. On the way, our guide was indeed successful in getting the birds—we felt as if there were two or three—to courtesy gobble, but they certainly were not psyched about joining our party. We closed the gap some more until we were within 60 yards of the greenfield where they holed up. That’s when they quit responding completely. Not a slip-gobble, courtesy response—nothing.
Now, if I’m an invited guest on a hunt, it’s always been my policy to keep my calls in my vest—unless I’m asked to join in the fray or desperate measures (i.e. we’ve got nothing to lose) become necessary. Although our guide was a more than capable caller, it was obvious to all that the birds had likely walked off. With nothing to lose, I reached for my boat paddle box call. I cutt and yelped hard on the box—game on! The birds responded instantly.
Schaefer had played this game before. Like a cat, he slipped down the creek bed in front of us and to within 40 yards of the field edge. Once I saw him set up, I ran the call again. Again the birds responded. They had cut the distance. Boom!
Mark’s thumbs up told the tale, but I kept calling. Two birds responded once or twice, but then it was obvious that they had enough. Schaefer’s big adult gobbler was in the 21-plus pound range with a 10-inch beard. Vengeance was ours.
Stay tuned for “We Hunt ’Em Cause We Hate ’Em” Part II.
Have a tale (and photo) of a particularly infuriating spring gobbler? I’d love to hear it. If we run your story on the Strut Zone, a boat paddle will be yours.—Gerry Bethge